For my journalism class this semester, we had to write what our teacher called a “packet project.” A packet is a collection of different news stories on one broad topic. I chose my topic to focus on the impact of online videos, which was both fun and challenging. We had to write a feature story, profile, and an editorial, which took us about half a semester.
This is the first of the packet stories. For my feature I had the opportunity to interview Rob Bluey of the Heritage Foundation‘s Daily Signal. Probably the best thing that’s come out of this project isn’t the paper or grade itself, but that I scored an internship with Mr. Bluey for this summer after the interview. At the beginning of the semester, I applied for Heritage’s Young Leaders Program (a highly competitive internship position that selected forty college students out of 470 applicants). After contacting Mr. Bluey for an interview request, I received word that he would be happy to help me with the project, but also wondered if I’d let him interview me. By the end of the interview, he sent me an official request to join the team.
For my profile story, click here.
For my editorial story, click here.
Rob Bluey is the editor in chief of the Daily Signal as well as vice president of publishing at the Heritage Foundation.
PENSACOLA. Fla. —An ordinary day for Rob Bluey often consists of a single idea. A single idea that is then bounced around with members of his multimedia team, who then draws up an outline including budget, headlines, and interview questions. After filming and careful editing, Bluey and his team release a new video to the Daily Signal’s website.
Organizations are now turning to online videos to promote themselves and reach the public.
With information readily available to anyone with wifi, print and online articles are holding fewer people’s attention, while video views are spiking across the web. Publishers are using this new trend to push out information that their consumers want to see and hear.
“One of the things we’ve also seen is that videos — particularly in terms of distributing them — can have a much greater reach or impact than a written story,” Bluey said.
Bluey explained that the Daily Signal — the Heritage Foundation’s multimedia news website — reaches a large portion of its followers through social media such as Facebook and YouTube. After all, YouTube, valued at $40 billion, is credited for changing modern journalism by giving people an opportunity to become their own journalists, according to The Atlantic.
“I do think that we are becoming a more visual culture,” said Bluey. “Ten years ago, the quality of video — and also the accessibility of video — was difficult. You didn’t have a smart phone or mobile device.”
At the Daily Signal, Bluey and his team work to incorporate the trend into their multimedia news organization. Those at the Heritage Foundation and Daily Signal have a goal to produce a video a day, with some days producing even more.
“With any news organization, timeliness is everything. My team and I work to produce documentaries, motion graphic explainers, and Facebook Live shows as quickly as possible without comprising quality or integrity,” said Michael Goodin, video production manager at the Heritage Foundation.
Including live videos, lecture recordings, and documentaries, the team also creates videos that help explain political concepts that average Americans might have trouble understanding.
“We’ll explain why it’s important to repeal Obamacare, or we’ll explain how the export-import bank works. . . . We’ll try to take an issue that might be a little bit obscure and try to reach a bigger audience through video,” explained Bluey.
Although Bluey says that Heritage and the Daily Signal continue to write articles for their website, videos are reaching a wider range of people. Why, exactly, may be due to Americans’ shorter attention spans. Instead of reading large blocks of text, people are looking for quicker, more readily available information. According to Bluey, a “long” video for the Daily Signal is six minutes.
“People tune out so quickly. It’s very difficult to hold their attention,” he said.
According to Newswhip Analytics, a report in September 2015 showed that average Facebook videos never went over ninety seconds in length. In more recent reports, “long” Facebook videos don’t even exceed three minutes.
Political think tanks and journalists aren’t the only people turning to videos, however. Another place multimedia is appearing is in churches. Sometimes videos are made to complement a pastor’s sermon, and often videos hold the attention of teenaged churchgoers.
Youth pastor Gary Boyd (middle) poses with four FBT church interns in a mock Dude Perfect photo to promote the teen revival entitled “Church Perfect.”
Gary Boyd has been the youth pastor for six years at Fairfax Baptist Temple. Throughout his service, he’s discovered that young people are more easily entertained with videos, movie references, and even contests that delve into multimedia.
Boyd says that videos engage more senses than just a picture or block of text.
“Its not just listening or reading something, you can actually see it happen,” Boyd said.
One such example of multimedia success was a recent teen revival, where Boyd based his theme off the popular Christian YouTube group, Dude Perfect. Boyd and several church interns spent the week filming basketball trick shots similar to the YouTube group in order to compile a video to kick off each revival service.
According to Boyd, the revival’s attendance was higher than previous years, not only because the sermons catered to the teens, but so did the videos. Boyd also hosted a video contest that invited the teens to perform and film their own trick shots, encouraging them to participate in the event through social media.
“Kids still talk about it,” he said, insisting the revival was a hit.
As videos become more prominent in America, one must wonder about the future of news and information. For Rob Bluey, videos are not just an American fad that will wear off in a few years. No, videos are here to stay as they continue to influence the way Americans receive their news and information with more readily available content than ever before.